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Highwire

Highwire

Do we have a future on YouTube?

The traditional format that TV currently offers is becoming less and less appealing to audiences who are now turning to online entertainment vendors like youtube, netflix and amazon. Each service provides on demand entertainment for millions of people around the world and Youtube seems to be a great way to reach those audiences. Its recognisable brand is trusted throughout the web and the vast majority of people will be happy to click on a link embedded from YouTube. This is why we (my business partner and I) decided to start posting our material on YouTube and get Trapeze Film into the wider world.

Since our channel started, a cloud has drifted over the Youtube creators community. I first became aware of the copyright claim issues via the Nostalgia Critic in Feb this year in his video “Where’s The Fair Use?”. He produced a twenty minute video addressing the issues revolving around the strike system and how it’s misuse by studios was disrupting the revenue of his channels and others that fairly use clips or materials from copyrighted works. E.g. Review, sketch, gaming, spoof…

He is not the only youtuber who has been having problems. I Hate Everything, CinemaSins, Your Movie sucks… have been targeted for using copyrighted material within their videos. I don’t want to get into an argument as to whether the strikes were fair or not as I don’t intend to use found video clips on my channel. What I find most concerning about the situation is that claims can be made by individuals or larger corporations without the need to provide any evidence, allowing them to potentially cause huge amounts of financial damage and the additional risk of having a channel shut down maliciously.

 

“Each service provides on demand entertainment for millions of people around the world and Youtube seems to be a great way to reach those audiences”.

 

The encouragement of vigilante reporting of “unsuitable” content and “rude” comments is a solution (of sorts) to help YouTube clean up its image. The YouTube Heroes project (https://goo.gl/BkyMu2) was designed to help monitor the continual influx of material uploaded to the site. By encouraging general members of the YouTube community to contribute their time to report channels that break YouTube’s terms and conditions. These “Heroes” would be rewarded with YouTube perks, Google would suffer minimal costs whilst receiving a massive boost in manpower. Makes sense on a business level.

The proposed system was immediately interpreted as a scheme based on negativity and punishment where a small army of “Heroes” go out to create a “safe space” (South Park season 19 anyone) for other users by eliminating potential threats to the community. These “threats” would be matched against YouTube’s content policy which is so vague that it seems to include all adult themes and content as grounds for video or even channel removal.

I am not a full tilt lefty. There are obviously things that should not be posted to a public forum in my mind. Things like bomb making and actual torture I believe should not be shown on YouTube but should we really ban conversations about sex, drugs and violence and other aspects of everyday life? Some of my favourite channels are those that ask questions, report on or make jest of these subjects and are subsequently at risk of removal because they are no longer within YouTube’s content policy. Have a look at the content policy and see whether your videos go against the rules. Likelihood is that you will probably have at least one video that someone could find offensive and flag leading to demonetisation or removal.

This is dangerous for content creators! Censorship encourages mediocrity, lack of real world experience and has the potential to be vastly misused, either intentionally or not.

In summary, Youtube’s current policy does not effectively allow creators to defend themselves when a copyright strike is made. You could wait for a claim to expire (in three months), contact the claimant (you would be lucky if they will talk to you) or you can create a counter notification (using a 400 character text box to fight your whole case with no guaranteed resolution). During this time revenue is suspended, potentially blocking all income for that video and no option to get that money back.

 

“I hope the backlash to the Heroes scheme and the copyright claiming issues will assist Google in helping them to make better judgements dealing with these issues”.

 

As far as the Heroes scheme is concerned, I think and hope it will be abandoned. I’ve heard an alternative suggested by nerd3 where a similar system is used but Heroes recommend video protection which prevents their content from being flagged and removed. As appealing as this sounds this is still not ideal as content makers may resort to adapting their content to seek protection from these so called “Heroes”.

Will we be staying on youtube? For the time being, yes. I hope the backlash to the Heroes scheme and the copyright claiming issues will assist Google in helping them to make better judgements dealing with these issues. I have some faith that one of the most innovative companies in the world can learn from its mistakes and work with its most frequent users to make YouTube stronger. I must admit I am skeptical of this but I live in hope.

As users we must be cautious. Google is a business afterall and it is in the company’s interest to make YouTube “safe” “accessible” and “marketable” so that their big commercial clients are safe in the knowledge that their ad won’t be tainted by a foul mouthed youtuber who is tackling unsavory issues like sex or racial prejudice despite how valid the video might be.

Trapeze has not tackled anything particularly controversial yet but I hope in the future we might continue to make videos that challenge our audience. I hope YouTube will remain to be a haven of creativity allowing new ideas to flourish, trolls to troll and free speech to be … free. So when we create our revolution, YouTube will not hinder and that discussions can be had by all the foul mouthed viewers our videos can attract.

Reuben – Trapeze Film

noobtube.org